The International Jugglers’ Association was founded in June of 1947 at an International Brotherhood of Magicians convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA). Twenty jugglers met together and had a memorable juggling session, highlighted by Bobby Jule’s introduction of the Chiesa Brothers, who showed off 8 and 9 ring juggling and other skills that they presented in their act with Ringling Brothers.
After the juggling session, eight of the jugglers, led by Art Jennings, Roger Montandon, Harry Lind and Jack Greene, met at a local restaurant and decided that a separate organization just for jugglers would be beneficial. They chose a name, drew up bylaws and selected the organization’s first officers. Other founding members at the meeting were Bernie Joyce, George Barvinchak, Bill Dunham and Eddie Johnson. Other jugglers in attendance at the convention became charter members of the IJA. They included Bobby Jule, Vin Carey, Doc Baldwin, Teddy Ray and Joe Fleckenstein.
We salute our founding fathers who created the IJA to answer the need for an “organization for jugglers that would provide meetings at regular intervals in an atmosphere of mutual friendship”.
The first annual convention (later festival) was held in Jamestown, NY, in June of 1948. It was attended by 38 of the young organization’s 115 members. The conventions of the 1950s and 1960s remained small gatherings, usually bringing together between twenty and thirty jugglers. The first convention held on the West Coast of the USA was held in 1968 and drew forty attendees. In 1975, the first convention to utilize a gym was held in Youngstown, Ohio, and was organized by Dick Franco and Joe Sullivan. It was attended by 175 people and marked the first “modern” convention.
By 1982, more than 600 jugglers were coming to the IJA Convention. The first IJA convention or festival held outside the USA took place in Montreal, Canada, in 1992. In 1978, the IJA held a mini-convention in Brighton, UK. This became the start of the European Juggling Convention, which is now the world’s largest gathering of jugglers.
The IJA mailed its printed IJA Newsletter to members from 1949 until late 1981, at which point Juggler’s World magazine replaced the newsletter. In 1998, JUGGLE magazine became the organization’s official publication for members. The IJA switched to an online magazine called eJuggle in 2012, with eJuggle available to anyone in the world whether member or not; some special premium content is available only to members. Since 2006, the IJA has also emailed the monthly IJA eNewsletter to members. In addition, the IJA has produced many instructional videos throughout the years to help share the art of juggling with the world.
World Juggling Day is an IJA sponsored event. It is observed annually on the Saturday closest to June 17, which is the day the IJA was founded in 1947. Originally, the day began as “National Juggling Day” but was changed to “World Juggling Day” in 1995 in order to better fulfill the mission of the organization. This event has been known to be celebrated by over 10,000 people in 60 countries.
In more recent years, the IJA has embraced the modern era of social media and has grown to have one of the strongest and most popular online juggling presences, with the aim of promoting and supporting juggling on an international level. In 2015, Instagram featured the IJA as a Suggested User for being an online presence that promotes unity and inspiration around the world.
In a multitude of ways, the IJA continues to “render assistance to fellow jugglers,” which has been the organization’s mission statement from the beginning.
Visit our Archived IJA History Site to learn more about the IJA’s history.
Past and Future Festivals
The IJA festival is the longest running annual juggling festival in the world and has helped to shape the juggling world as it exists today. First held in 1948, the annual festival has attracted as many as 1,200 people in its most popular years. Below is a list of festival years and locations dating back to 1948. Many of the years below are clickable and will open with information about that year’s festival. Also available are the competition results from all past IJA festivals
- 2020 – July 13-19, El Paso, TX
- 2019 – June 24–30, Fort Wayne, IN
- 2018 – July 16-22, Springfield, MA
- 2017 – July 10-16, Cedar Rapids, IA
- 2016 – July 25-31, El Paso, TX
- 2015 – July 20-26, Quebec City, QC
- 2014 – July 28 – August 3, West Lafayette, IN
- 2013 – July 15-21, Bowling Green, OH
- 2012 – July 16-22, Winston-Salem, NC
- 2011 – July 18-24, Rochester, MN
- 2010 – July 26 – August 1, Sparks, NV
- 2009 – July 13-19, Winston-Salem, NC
- 2008 – July 14-20, Lexington, KY
- 2007 – July 16-22, Winston-Salem, NC
- 2006 – July 17-23, Portland, OR
- 2005 – July 18-24, Davenport, IA
- 2004 – July 12-18, Buffalo, NY
- 2003 – July 14-19, Reno, NV
- 2002 – July 15-20, Reading, PA
- 2001 – July 24-28, Madison, WI